Ponsonby Park update

Urban green space is an important investment that local authorities make on behalf of their citizens' wellbeing.

• Biodiversity is maintained and protected.

• Environmental hazards such as air pollution and noise are reduced.

• Impacts of extreme weather events (heat waves, extreme rainfall or flooding) are mitigated.

• The quality of urban living is enhanced.

• The health and wellbeing of residents and visitors is improved.

• Residents and visitors have adequate and accessible opportunities for exposure to nature.

Urban green space is an important component of the public open space provided by a city. Green space serves as a health-promoting setting for all members of the urban community, so it is necessary to ensure they are easily accessible for all population groups:

• Urban green spaces provide opportunities for active recreation

• Through improved air and water quality, buffering of noise pollution and mitigation of impacts from extreme events, urban green spaces can reduce environmental health risks associated with urban living.

• In addition, they support and facilitate health and wellbeing by enabling stress alleviation and relaxation, physical activity, improved social interaction and community cohesiveness.

• Health benefits include improved levels of mental health, physical fitness and cognitive and immune function, as well as lower mortality rates in general.

Planning for people must be planning with people - the community has to be involved from the beginning to create urban green spaces that match the needs of local residents, visitors and businesses. Community participation, as employed in our Community-led Design process, assures use and acceptance of urban green spaces.

Urban green spaces are of course long-term investments with the benefits increasing over time as population increases. Therefore, they need to be planned and designed in a flexible way, making functional adjustments possible to adapt to changing future demands.

The Community-led Design process has resulted in a 'fit for purpose' outcome that includes:

• Usability in all seasons (lighting, drainage, materials).

• The integration of strong management of safety issues (lighting, visibility, accessibility).

• Supplying infrastructural features such as benches, waste bins, toilets, etc.

• Use of plant species with no or small allergic potential - especially native species with fewer maintenance needs.

• Applying ecological maintenance practices and consequent health benefits.

• Making use of biodiversity enhancing features (food sources for native species) and uses different plants to create diverse settings.

• The design of an urban green space that facilitates activity by all population groups.

The findings of the council’s consultation on their long-term plan are due at the end of this month. We will soon know when the development of Ponsonby Park will begin! We’ll keep you updated. (JENNIFER WARD)